It was with great sadness I heard of the recent passing of Dr Ronald Hope CBE. Many seafarers may not know his name, but for most of the second half of the twentieth century he was their champion.
Initially as Director of the Seafarers Education Service (SES) which centred round the provision of books for ships, but also through the ‘College of the Sea’ giving seafarers a ‘distance learning programme’ even when far from home.
At the beginning of September 1960 I had just joined my first ship, the mv Cardiganshire (Captain RT Harries) in the Royal Docks, London. I was summoned into the presence of the Glen Line Marine Superintendent, Captain Dowie and told that the company wished me to attend a one day course at the Seafarers Education Service (SES) at Mansbridge House, Balham Road, Balham the next day.
On arriving at Mansbridge House I joined fellow cadets from other companies such as P&O, Ellermans and BP. We were welcomed by Mr Ryder, Secretary of the SES, before meeting Dr Ronald Hope, Director SES – a tall distinguished looking, but friendly man. We spent the day learning about the work of the SES, but also viewing films of the Malta convoys. Dr Hope also gave us a talk on what makes a happy ship. I quote an extract from my middie’s log for that day.
“After a very full, but informative day we said our goodbyes having learned a lot and with respect for a society that does so much for seafarers of all ranks. Mr Ryder and Dr Hope seemed dedicated to their unselfish work.”
So long ago, but I still remember that day.
Seafarers over the years owe much to the services of the Seafarers Education Society/Marine Society, two charities which merged in 1976 under the leadership of Dr Hope. Over 40 years he fought for the rights and interests of seafarers and was indeed a pioneer of ‘distance learning’. He should be remembered by seafarers with gratitude, respect and thanks – a very special man.